It’s my fortieth birthday today. I’ve been looking forward to leaving the 30’s behind me for a long time now. Most people feel that way about particular years, when December crosses into January and the number of the calendar year changes. I’ve never been that person. Today I realize that birthdays are what do it for me because that’s the day MY year changes.

I dreaded my thirtieth birthday, like seriously dreaded it. I felt like I was SO old (ah, the innocence of youth) and I wanted to stay in my twenties longer. Thirty ended up being an amazing year. I started a new journey of allowing the Holy Spirit to dig out deep roots in my heart and bring healing to so many places in my childhood and young adulthood. My early thirties were a time of uprooting weeds, tilling, and enriching soil to prepare me for things I had never imagined I would have to face in the later part of that decade.

If you don’t know me well, you need to know that it hasn’t all been great big selfie smiles and happy family trips to Florida (in fact that was the only trip of its kind that my boys have ever been on). I try to be transparent without being morbid – I’m a vulnerable person who believes that what we experience informs the experiences of others, and that what God does in me is not just for me, but is also for you, so I share as openly as I feel is appropriate (and sometimes I have to go back and deleted things, because, well, I’m human).

It’s really easy to say, “God is good,” and give Him glory when He answers our prayers the way we want Him to, so I want to make sure you know that God has not answered my prayers that way that I wanted Him to. He didn’t do things I had faith for Him to do. He allowed things to happen that I would never have wished on anyone. He took me to a place where there was nothing left but Him and me, and I had to wrestle with Him to keep my faith. And somehow, through a strength that was not my own, I have been able to remain standing and say, “God you are still good.” That right there sums up my thirties. Wow. Because of His power in me, I survived, and because of His grace and mercy, I can see His hand in every prayer request that didn’t go my way. Because of His faithfulness I am THANKFUL that He didn’t answer some of those prayers. I never, ever believed that I would be able to say that. In keeping with His promises, the Lord has used everything for His glory, and I am so much better for all that has gone down. Thank you, Jesus!

So, as I look back on the past ten years, while there are still precious, healing wounds caused by what was experienced, survived and stolen, I’m very thankful to be looking forty straight in the eye. I’m welcoming this new decade like an old friend I’ve been waiting for.

This morning as I worshiped the Lord in my kitchen, I had the strong sense that (may seem cliché, but oh well) a door was being firmly closed behind me. On the pain and experiences that live in my thirties hangs a big CLOSED sign. It’s not wiped away, because my Father cares about my scars, and because He is faithful to show His glory in all things, but He has shut the door on that season. It is finished and a new door is open, a new season is beginning. A fresh start.

I have trudged through the last ten years with a lot of weight on my shoulders, but today I feel empowered to RUN (not physically, because this body acts a lot older than 40, HA!) through this new door and into this new beginning. Everything I have walked through has prepared me for THIS moment.

It’s my 40th birthday today. I’m leaning against a firmly closed door, looking through one that’s wide open and the only thing I know to expect is more of God’s faithfulness and provision. My best days are still ahead of me. So are yours. May you be blessed with more of Him today!